What happened to all the quarterbacks already? Andrew Luck suddenly retired. Nick Foles is out with a collar bone, an injury he really needs to let heal rather than return this season. Ben Roethlisberger says he’ll return next year after his elbow surgery, and for what it’s worth I believe him. Eli Manning is no longer starting at the Giants, and if I were him I’d try to join the Jags post haste to close out the career with Tom Coughlin. Drew Breese will be out six games, making the Saints an unlikely playoff team. Sam Darnold is out with mononucleosis, which sucks, but at least he will return this season and the likelihood of his team making the playoffs is unchanged in that there is zero likelihood.
And what is the common thread in all of these stories? The New England Patriots.
It must be nice to walk between the raindrops every year. It must be nice to be in a division of ineptitude. It must be nice to get a first round bye and then play the remaining playoff games in front of your home fans every year. Gee whiz, what would need to happen in order for a team to get that sort of perpetual bliss?
Well you start by being in a division with the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. And I guess that’s really all you need. Let’s look at their schedule though. Week one was against the Steelers, a team built upon star players, having missed their two greatest players in the last two years and then not adequately replaced. Week two was against the Dolphins, a team that should be the subject of a class action lawsuit by their season ticket holders for tanking the season. Week three is the Jets. Will Sam Darnold be back from mononucleosis by then? Then comes the Bills, Redskins, Giants (sans Eli Manning), Jets, Browns, Ravens, then the Bye.
Going into the Week 10 bye, if the Patriots are 8-1, that will be perceived as more than just a little bit disappointing. And WHEN they are in the playoffs, most likely starting in the Divisional round, they already know that their biggest foes, the Steelers and the Colts, will not be around to challenge them. The AFC has become a dumpster fire with very few exceptions.
Can you name any real rival to the Patriots this year? Can you say with certainty that any other team is guaranteed to be in the Super Bowl? Heck, I’ll roll the dice here. The New England Patriots will WIN the Super Bowl this year and will do so convincingly.